The Alabama Crimson Tide came into Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City and took another step on the path toward the Division I Women’s Softball National Championship, handling the Tennessee Volunteers by a final score of 5-3. The tournament continues for Alabama tonight as the ladies face off against the defending national champion Arizona State Sun Devils.
The Sun Devils bring a 52-9 overall record into their tussle with the Tide. The regular season performance earned Arizona State a No. 3 national seed throughout the post season. Unlike Alabama, who has yet to lose this postseason, Arizona State had to win two in a row to beat Louisiana-Lafayette after a Game 1 loss in the super regionals, and also suffered a loss to Syracuse during the regional round. The Sun Devils beat the Oregon Ducks 3-1 in order to advance to this game.
Arizona State and Alabama are offensive mirrors. They are tied at No. 2 in the country with an average of almost seven runs per game. The Sun Devils are led by superstar Katelyn Boyd. Boyd leads the team in every offensive category and is among the top 15 in the NCAA in batting average, runs per game and home runs per game. Along with Boyd, Arizona State has two other players hitting near .400 in Alix Johnson and Bailey Wigness.
If the Sun Devils are stifled by strong pitching, they can also reply in kind. Dallas Escobedo pitched Arizona State to a national championship last year, and has posted a 24-6 overall record this year along with a 2.26 ERA. Like Tennessee, Arizona State has a pair of strong pitchers. If Escobedo gets knocked around by the Tide early, Hillary Bach can come in for a change of pace. Bach’s 1.59 ERA leads the pitching staff.
While Tennessee presented a tall order for the Tide, Arizona State presents an even bigger one. Katelyn Boyd can literally take a game over at the plate and the rest of the team hits so well that pitching around her could prove onerous. The Sun Devil pitchers are battle tested and ready. First pitch from Oklahoma City will be at 8:30 CST tonight.